By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – A maple romance that grew over the years combined with 18 months of intense research, planning and work culminates this spring with the opening of Maple Run Gourmet Grocery and Gift Emporium at 49 Market St.
Mary Hilton of Madrid says the maple-themed storefront is just one aspect of a business that popped up on the web in December and will be marketing maple products to potential customers all over the world – gourmet syrup and sugar products, kitchenware and other specialty products made by local artisans from the wood of maple trees, and lots of new products including some ideas of her own.
“I thought of a little maple shop selling some syrup, but as I looked into it, I saw what is available in the world of condiments – some great ideas for sauces and so on.”
During a period of research – including attending Maple Expos at Potsdam High School, local sugaring operations during Maple Weekends, and the county Chamber of Commerce’s Craft, Food and Wine Shows at Clarkson University’s Cheel Center – she accumulated information filling two three-inch-thick notebooks.
What took shape in her mind is what we will see come the grand opening of Maple Run Gourmet Grocery and Gift Emporium on April 1.
The store, formerly Aerus Electrolux, has been gutted and refitted opening up the space straight through to the windows in the back wall, and will have a new maple floor and locally made maple shelves for product display.
The array of products will be diverse, including the maple products you would expect and many you might not: smoked cheeses, coffees, teas; condiments like mustards, glazes and hot sauces; cookies, cakes, ice creams, pies, baking mixes with maple in them; wood kitchen furnishings like cutting boards, spice racks, pot racks, tables and chairs, and utensils; scents, soaps, candles, scrubs, lotions, creams, books, barbecue grilling chips, and much more, all in less than 2,000 square feet.
“At one point 20-some years ago we had a small farm with some maple trees that others were tapping,” from which she would get a share of the syrup.
Hilton was inspired reading about the Nearings of Vermont, a well-known back-to-the-land couple who earned cash largely through maple sugaring.
“I had a romantic vision of a cabin in the woods,” and maple sugaring was part of the vision.
She says she also learned that “the difference between what you can buy in a supermarket and fresh syrup is amazing.”
And so far, Hilton says, “we’ve had lots of good positive feedback from people” about the plan.
“We’re on track to have most of the interior work done by the end of February, and then we move in the displays and products in March,” she said.
In the meantime she continues to plan her web campaign and more retail outlets.
More info is at www.maplerunemporiums.com.